Duke Nukem Forever (partially lost original builds of first-person shooter sequel; 1996-2009)
Duke Nukem Forever is a first-person shooter game that is notable for having one of the longest development cycles in gaming history, having started development in 1996 and being released in 2011.
The game had gone through numerous changes prior to release, including two early versions/builds that are now considered lost.
The game started off development using the Quake II engine, in 1998. A trailer was subsequently released.
However, 3D Realms made the decision to switch to the Unreal Engine, a process that was to take a month to 6 weeks. In 1999, they released screenshots that showcased what could be achieved with the Unreal Engine, and shortly after, stated that the game would see a 2000 release.
In 2001, another trailer was released, which showed various improvements over Duke Nukem 3D, with the trailer ending with the phrase "When it's done". In 2002, the game was reworked yet again with another engine, with most of the original designs being reworked or scrapped. They announced that the game would be released in 2004, when it was announced that it had been reworked again, this time with the Doom 3 engine.
In 2008, several screenshots were bundled as unlockable extras in the XBLA release of Duke Nukem 3D. Then, in 2009, the development took an unexpected turn. 3D Realms was downsized, which resulted in the large majority of the development team being laid off.
More gameplay was also leaked online at this time. This is assumed to be one of the last builds/versions.
The game was then remade, from scratch, by 2K Games and Gearbox. This version is what ended up being released as the final product.
On May 8th, 2022, a leaker group called x0r_jmp posted gameplay footage of the E3 2001 incarnation to 4chan, saying that they'll release the build in June. George Broussard, the game's original director, confirmed that the gameplay footage "looks real." However, x0r_jmp revealed that the June release date was fake and released the 2001 build of the game on May 10th, including its source code and a press kit.
On December 25th, 2022, x0r_jmp posted on the network another earlier build of the game from 1996, which was a side-scroller. Also on the page with his files was a note "Merry Christmas".
- A Duke Nukem fan website post from 1998 about the game's engine switch. Retrieved 23 Apr '19
- GameSpot article on the change of engines. Retrieved 23 Apr '19
- Article on the layoff, including info about a lawsuit filed by 3D Realms. Retrieved 23 Apr '19
- Announcement of the game resuming development. Retrieved 23 Apr '19
- Archived original thread. Retrieved 9 May '22
- Archived separate thread, containing more footage. Retrieved 9 May '22
- Broussard's tweet. Retrieved 9 May '22
- Archived release thread. Retrieved 11 May '22
- Release page with 1996 build. Retrieved 31 Dec '22